Living in a small town in Southwest Colorado, I primarily work with small to mid-size companies. It is a pleasure working with owners, however, most small business owners do not have very many resources and therefore have to “do it all”. To that end, when I do a web site project for a company, I also become an integral part of their marketing department. Many times I assume the role of IT department, marketing department, copywriter and graphic designer. Through this process, I also try to help owners understand the importance of branding.

When creating a web site or an Internet marketing campaign, one of the most important questions I ask the client is “Who are you trying to reach and what emotional connection are you trying to make?” This starts a larger discussion on branding and positioning.

A lot of small business owners just put an ad together or a web site hoping that the mere presence of advertising will drive business their direction. However, if they have never thought about who they are trying to attract or their overall strategy, they may use the wrong message, photos, and copy that is not attracting their key market. In addition, their web site, brochure, and advertising may be sending different, conflicting messages. For example, they may create a beautiful professional ad but when the potential customer goes to the web site, they have old graphics, miles of copy and confusing navigation. This will cause the customer to jump off the site and not call or Email.

When asking if a company has ever tried marketing in a specific channel, many owners will say “we tried it and it doesn’t work”. However, was the marketing channel the problem (i.e. magazine, PPC ad, online advertiser) or was it the ad itself?

Before starting a web project or any other marketing project, it is extremely important that your marketing team truly understands who you are targeting and what colors, fonts, words and copy will attract that type of person. People buy because of emotions to solve a need, save them money or save them time. If your key audience is not quickly understanding how your product or service will help them, then they will move on. You are not trying to sell the entire world…you are simply trying to connect with potential customers who “match” the value you are offering.

Futhermore, it takes at least 7 “touches” for a person to even recognize that they saw your ad or article. Therefore, marketing should be a comprehensive strategy, not one that just throws mud on the wall to see what sticks.

Finally, all marketing should have a specific lead channel. My next article will talk about the evolution of online brochure web sites to lead generation web sites.

Marcy Mitchell, owner of MTECH Internet Marketing, has been helping small to medium sized business owners develop comprehensive marketing strategies and effective web sites for the past 14 years. For a complimentary marketing review, contact her or call 970-731-6325.